2017 was an important year in many respects.
In various areas of the world, after the long years of crisis, the macroeconomic data revealed a strengthening recovery and the election season involving many countries where Sofidel operates (including the United States, France, Great Britain and Germany) came to an end.
Within this general context Sofidel continued to pursue its development policy with, among other things, the activation of new and more modern converting lines, the introduction of new paper mill capacity and the launch of a new growth phase for the Regina brand.
Specifically, the year saw a tripling of paper mill production capacity at the Ciechanów plant, in Poland, the start-up of new converting lines at Buñuel, in Spain (where new paper mill production capacity will be activated by the last quarter of 2018, tripling current production) and the assembly of converting plant and paper mill machinery at Circleville, in Ohio, in what will be the biggest and most modern plant in the Group.
In parallel, the Regina brand has been renewed and strengthened with a new, more coherent pan-European positioning and the launch, for the first time, of a common advertising campaign, planned in several countries (United Kingdom, Eire, Italy and Poland), while in the United States Sofidel has established important contacts to ensure the growth of its market presence in the coming months.
Within this positive scenario, the year was, however, also marked by less favourable economic events that had a negative impact on Group trends. These included the significant increase in the cost of the main raw material (cellulose), which made achieving our margins much more of a challenge, and the weakening of the pound which caused a contraction – given the importance of the UK market to the Group – in terms of consolidation of the UK results.
One of the elements characterising 2017 was undoubtedly growing awareness that technological innovation – like digitalisation, Big Data and Industria 4.0 – will have an ever greater influence on people’s lives, and the consequent growing attention given to this aspect by the Group, in procurement, production and distribution. At the social level, in particular within the European context, the phenomenon of transmigration made its first definitive entry onto the public agenda, fuelled by the rapid growth in the number of inhabitants sharing the planet and the movement of large numbers of people from developing countries or war zones to the more developed countries. A development which places the problem of integrating these flows, which may in part also represent a new work force and a new source of demand, at the top of today’s agenda.
This is the context within which Sofidel is looking to the future. And, with its vision focused on sustainable and responsible growth, it does so with the UN 2030 Agenda and its “17 Sustainable Development Goals” as its reference point.
…And it does so knowingly and with a clear approach, aware that it stands on the threshold of a new era, rich in challenges and opportunities, which must be identified and faced together with its stakeholders, all along the value creation chain…
The future is now!